Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New Pattern and Kits: QuadraTile Sweet Bun Set

Since I just can't resist playing with new bead shapes, I applied and was accepted to Starman's TrendSetters program last year. My first pattern resulting from these new beads, the QuadraTile Sweet Bun Set, is now available at beadorigami.com.

QuadraTile Beads: A bead with Four Holes

This pattern features the new QuadraTile beads, which are square-shaped beads with four holes that look sort of like square buttons. Like the other CzechMates beads such as the two-hole triangles, the holes of these beads are spaced uniformly for consistency across the CzechMates line.

Working with these beads presented all kinds of new challenges, such as how to position the holes of the beads so that they point in the correct direction, and how to engineer the beadwork to make use of all four holes. But it's been a fun challenge and I came up with several ideas that I'm looking forward to talking about more over the next few months.

A Delicious Bracelet

This beadwork design combines the QuadraTile beads with two-hole triangles and Japanese seed beads to create round circular components. The components are quite sturdy, and I liked the feel of the rounded edges of the CzechMates beads so much that I joined several components together to make bracelets.

The connections between the components are rather rigid, and the bracelet is finished with a magnet clasp. While I was photographing these bracelets, I found that the magnets kept sticking to the metal surface that sits on the bottom of my photography box. This led to some interesting bracelet gymnastics shots such as this one:

A Matching Pendant

The beading pattern for this design describes how to make both the bracelet and a matching pendant using variations on the circular peyote and circular netting stitches. The pendant component uses 8-fold symmetry instead of 6-fold symmetry to make it slightly larger than the components used in the bracelet. However, this component can also be used in place of some or all of the smaller bracelet components to make the bracelet slightly longer.

This QuadraTile bead pattern is in the PDF format, and clocks in at 17 pages of step-by-step instructions with 46 full-color illustrations and photographs. This pattern is appropriate for experienced beaders who want to take up the challenge of beading with four-hole beads.

Three Kit Colorways

Kits for this design are available in the three colorways shown, and include all the beads and findings needed to make either the bracelet or the pendant (the pendant kit does not include a chain or other stringing materials). 

Thanks for looking! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Last Month's Workshop with David Chatt

My local bead society here in San Diego has brought in some phenomenal bead artists over the past couple of years. Last month I had the privilege to take a class with the fantastic bead artist David Chatt. Though he's a master in many beadweaving stitches, much of his work is done with right angle weave (RAW), and David was one of the first bead artists to work with cubic right angle weave (CRAW).

His class style is very different from other beadweaving classes; he brought in several boxes of bits and pieces of beadwork; what he called his "sketchbook." In this four-day class we were able to ask how to make any piece in the sketchbook, and all the students had one-on-one time to focus on learning whatever skills would help them go in their own artistic directions. I didn't get many pictures of the sketchbook pieces, but you can see a couple of them on Marcia's blog.

One of David's signature styles is in covering a form or a figure with beadwork. He brought several little plastic soldier toys to class to teach this technique, and I chose some matte bronze size 15° seed beads to cover mine.

As a geometry nerd with a general reluctance to attempting any kind of freeform beadwork, I found this exercise quite challenging! But I also learned that this organic approach is much less freeform than I had thought; David explained how to think of the beadwork as a fabric, and how the fabric of the beadwork will look best if it follows certain lines on the form rather than looking like a random collection of beads.

Notice how the shape of the helmet is distinct from the head, and the definition that shows the detail in the arms? These were just a couple of the tips we learned in class.

After learning how to cover a form with beads, I turned to exploring several of the more geometric items in the sketchbook. And by that I mean that I totally nerded-out in a rather embarrassing Hermione Granger-esque fashion.

One of the more interesting items in David's sketchbook was the pyramid. The construction is more intuitive than it looks, though it required a little bit of needle gymnastics. I managed to make two small pyramids, one with 4 mm bicone crystals and the other with 6 mm bicone glass beads and crystals.

The great thing about the pyramid is that its underside holds a hidden pattern of multicolored beads.

I made the green one with several colors of crystals on the underside.

David assigned me a couple of RAW and CRAW homework assignments after the first few classes. Here's my version of the first assignment, a twisty bit of beadwork woven with RAW:

I also explored several other twisted sketchbook pieces in class. The two bits on either side are from David's sketchbook, and the middle one is one of my own variations with pentagons instead of squares.

One of the most interesting ideas that we explored was in this piece. David postulated an idea of a long rectangle woven with CRAW, and wondered what it would look like if the edges of the rectangle were color-coded, and if the sides decreased by one stitch on each row so that the rectangle would gradually twist into a point. I took this idea and ran with it and ended up with this interesting little piece. I added gold beads along the edges and little ruffles at the bottom to make it look like a wizard's hat.

In all, I ended up with quite a few little beaded ideas from David's class, and I'm looking forward to taking these ideas further over the next several months.

David doesn't teach very often, so if you get the chance to take one of his classes, take it. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015 Bead and Button Show Classes

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be teaching four classes at the 2015 Bead & Button Show. Each class that I'm offering this year is three hours long and features a different beading technique.

Cosmic Stardust Pendant 

First up is the Comic Stardust Pendant (generously sponsored by Starman Beads!) which is offered on Wednesday, June 3 from 4 - 7 PM. This intricate, lacy geometric beaded pendant is completely self-supporting and features a variety of crystals, Japanese seed beads, and two-hole beads such as SuperDuos or two-hole triangles. The size and geometry of this pendant can be adjusted to create smaller beaded beads or fancy ornaments!

Brain Chemistry Earrings

Next is the Brain Chemistry Earrings, offered on Friday, June 5 from 8:30 - 11:30 AM. In this class students will learn how to create an accurate, 3D beaded representation of the GABA molecule, and how to incorporate two of these molecules into a pair of earrings. This class is a nice introduction to the world of beaded molecules, and give off tons of sparkle for a fun, fancy way to show off beaded chemistry.

Sakura Bouquet Necklace

Next is the Sakura Bouquet Necklace (also sponsored by Starman Beads), offered on Saturday, June 6 from 9 AM - noon. This piece features four different varieties of the cherry blossom flower, all incorporated into a cascading necklace. The individual beaded charms can be used in a variety of other types and arrangements of jewelry, as I've discussed on this blog before.

This past Christmas I wove several of these charms as earrings and gave them out as gifts!

Rose Blossom Pendant

Finally, the Rose Blossom Pendant (also sponsored by Starman beads) will be offered on Friday, June  5 from 5 - 8 PM. This turbine-like pendant features two different sizes of rose petal bead surrounding a Swarovski rivoli crystal. This design uses a twist on the right angle weave (RAW) technique and works up quickly, so you will want to make more than one.

The 2015 Bead & Button Show will take place in Milwaukee, WI from May 27-June 8, and class registration opens today at noon (CST). It's the biggest bead show in the US and it's a whole lot of fun each year. I'd love to see you there!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Year-End Kit Clearance Sale

I'm having a sale on several beading kits available at beadorigami.com to make way for new exciting designs in 2015! Additionally, several of the beading patterns associated with these kits are on sale as well. Here's a selection of the kits available during this special sale:

Check out the full list of discounted kits at www.beadorigami.com/kit_clearance.html. The sale discounts are applied automatically at checkout so no coupon code is needed. The sale ends on December 31, 2014.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Molecular Holiday Beading

Presenting a beaded alpha-pinene molecule, the chemical responsible for the scent of Christmas trees:

Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

New Pattern and Kits: Melon Ball Beaded Beads

My newest beading pattern is now complete! This design features etched melon beads woven into round beaded beads, so I've named them Melon Ball Beaded Beads.

Beaded Beads with Etched Melon Beads

When I first started working with these etched melon beads, I knew that I wanted to feature them in some kind of round beaded bead. I chose the structure of an octahedron to give a medium-sized beaded bead of less than 1" in diameter, however I spent a bunch of time experimenting with possible embellishments on this design. Several of my prototypes featured several layers of seed beads, which, while very pretty, detracted from the textures and colors of the etched melon beads.

I eventually settled on using two-hole triangles to embellish these beaded beads. I didn't expect to use two-hole triangles in this project, but I liked how the angular arrangement of these beads set off the textured, round shape of the etched melon beads. Only a handful of size 11° and 15° seed beads are needed to complete each beaded bead, and other 6 mm round beads can work in place of the etched melon beads.

Etched Melon Beads with Antique Cut Beads

I strung these beaded beads on necklaces along with two different sizes of antique cut beads. I like how the angles formed by the two-hole triangle beads complement the antique cut beads.

This version features silver etched melon beads and blue antique cut beads for a very wintery colorway.

The beading pattern for this design describes how to make the beaded beads and how to string them together with antique cut beads to create a necklace. The pattern is in the PDF format, and clocks in at 13 pages of step-by-step instructions with 42 full-color illustrations and photographs.

In this pattern, I describe a different method for weaving an octahedron beaded bead than I have in past patterns. I've found this method a little clearer to illustrate (especially taking into account the two different holes of the two-hole triangles), and it's my hope that anyone who follows this pattern will find it clearer to understand as well.

Three Limited Edition Kit Colorways

Kits for this design are available in the three colorways shown, and include all the beads and findings needed to make a necklace up to 21" in length containing five Melon Ball beaded beads. Unfortunately I'm not able to refill these kits once they are sold out, so these are limited edition kits - once they're gone, they're gone!

On that note, the last day to order kits for delivery before the new year is December 21: beading patterns can still be purchased and downloaded from the Bead Origami website, however all kits ordered during this time will ship after January 2.

Have a very warm and Happy Holiday Season!  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Color Play with Marsala: The Pantone 2015 Color of the Year

Marsala: Pantone's Color of the Year for 2015

I decided to try to make some beaded pendants using the color marsala, a brownish light red wine color that's also Pantone's Color of the Year for 2015. You can click over to Pantone's official site to see some of their examples of this color in action. I also colored a few of my beading illustrations using this hue:

(I should note that my illustrations tint marsala to the lighter side; the dark parts of these illustrations are closer to the official Pantone color).

First Color Experiment: Marsala Tints

I started with a monochromatic color palette made up of seed beads, Rizo beads, crystals, and freshwater pearls, that ironically enough had been sitting together on one of my bead trays since last August. Out of all the beads in my stash, a copper-lined seed bead that I found at Creative Castle most closely matched marsala, so I used this seed bead in each of the projects in these color experiments.

I decided to try to create the Tropical Dahlia Pendant with these beads, substituting drop-shaped freshwater pearls for the Czech drop beads called for in this pattern.

Unfortunately, these particular freshwater pearls are too thick at the base of the pearl, so they don't fit into this design when substituted one-to-one for the drop beads. I tried adjusting the seed bead count to compensate, but it still ended up too wonky.

So, for my next attempt, I found some reddish-brown iris Czech drop beads and also changed the color of the Rizo beads to a pink opal/sunset color, for a very monochromatic take on this design.

(Incidentally, while I was hunting for these drop beads, I learned that I have the same beads with the same color number from two different dye lots in my stash. In this case, the color difference is quite substantial!)

Second Color Experiment: Marsala with Purple

For my next experiment, I tried combining marsala with purple; I substituted shiny purple lentil beads for the outer ring of crystals, and I also used purple drop beads.

I like the look of this result, but in this particular pendant design I prefer a more even tint progression from the inner rivoli crystal to the outer edge of the pendant, so I tried again with a slightly different purple lentil bead for the outer edge, and one of those new patina rivoli crystals for the center.

I was drawn to this result color-wise, as I love purple and I like the tint progression in this beaded pendant. However the patina of the crystal competes with the complexity of the overall design, and this version has the least marsala out of all the experiments.

Still, I had to create a pair of matching Sakura earrings before continuing :)

Third Color Experiment: Marsala with Magic Wine

For my third experiment, I wanted to get back to the red wine flavor of marsala that Pantone shows off on their website, so I switched back to a mahogany rivoli crystal and added magic wine Rizo beads, cranberry drop beads, and a light magic green shade of lentil bead:

While it's on the darker side, I think this Tropical Dahlia pendant most closely matches the red wine richness that's most appealing about the marsala color.

Fourth Color Experiment: Marsala with Matte Sunset/Tan

For my final experiment, I switched to the Rivoli Kaleidoscope design, and used lighter, browner shades of lentils, crystals, and drop beads for this pendant.

The result is more monochromatic and, with the addition of the matte sunset drop beads, a little more on the Desert Sand side of the marsala spectrum. It's probably not the best representation of this color, but I think this palette could benefit from more light peach Duracoat/PF seed beads.

I also couldn't resist making another pair of matching Sakura earrings :)

Marsala Color Experiments: Results and Conclusions

My takeaway from these experiments? I think the marsala color has a lot of potential, particularly when paired with darker, richer wine-like reds. It also blends with purple, so it could be used as a secondary or tertiary color to warm up a purple-heavy color palette. At least in my hands, marsala is less effective in a monochromatic color palette, particularly with related colors of similar value.

I was also glad to learn a couple of design lessons from these experiments. Namely: freshwater pearls don't work very well in the Tropical Dahlia design, but lentil beads substitute for the outer crystals quite well.

What do you think of Pantone's choice of marsala for 2015? Love it? No? Drop me a line in the comments :)
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